By tonight, for one of the Wildrose Alliance Party’s two candidates, it’ll all be over but the wailing and the gnashing of teeth.
Judging from the unscientific little self-selecting poll I’ve run on this site for the past few days, most of my readers think the one in the corner with the crying towel will be Mark Dryholm.
The poll asked: “The right-wing Wildrose Alliance Party picks a leader on Oct. 17. Which of the two candidates will it be?” When the poll shut down at 1 a.m. this morning, 41 readers had responded – 32 of them predicting the winner would be Danielle Smith, a brave nine placing their bets on Mr. Dryholm.
My money’s with the majority, of course. No slur on Mr. Dryholm, whoever the heck he is, but Ms. Smith has impeccable far-right credentials as a Fraser Institute apparatchik, is politically experienced if not all that successfully, appealingly telegenic, well-spoken, and knows how to keep her more outrageous views under the radar.
In other words, she can win – seats, if not the government. So why the heck wouldn’t they choose her?
Well… That question got me thinking: What if Ms. Smith isn’t far enough to the right for the denizens of Wildrose country? In other words: Does choosing Danielle Smith make too much sense?
After all, most of the people who read this blog are unreconstituted Knee-Dips – the comments show that clearly enough. Maybe your typical Alberta New Democrat – who to survive needs to be as hardy as our beautiful provincial flower, the lovely and fragrant wild rose – just can’t imagine the reasoning process of his or her counterpart over at the Wildrose Alliance.
What if we’re predicting their judgment based on our perception of things like mass appeal, electability and charisma – not what really matters to the pure laine Prairie right, to wit, paleo-ideological purity?
Because while Ms. Smith’s economic views are pretty clearly far enough to the right to satisfy any oil company executive’s craving for fundamentalist market voodoo, she strikes me as being pretty much a wet on so-called social conservative issues.
Can the loony Alberta right abide a candidate that from their perspective is soft on gays, stem cell research, affirmative action and not nearly enthusiastic enough about “fambly values”? I mean, really, shouldn’t she be standing by her man instead of running for office?
I guess today when the ballots are counted will tell how deep the social conservative instinct runs in the lizard brain of the Wildrose Alliance – or at least how pragmatic the party’s supporters are capable of being.
Ms. Smith may have the edge, for all the reasons floated above. But don’t rule out the possibility that the right of the right could snatch back their party from the citified economic conservatives who have made their play through Ms. Smith.
If that happens and they elect Mr. Dryholm, there will be rejoicing tonight at Castle Stelmach, where Premier Ed’s men will doubtless serve up a fatted calf in celebration. In a little time, the Alliance’s corporate donations will dry up. The Alberta Liberals and New Democrats, as relieved as Mr. Stelmach, will bumble separately on. Alberta will go back to sleep.
On the other hand, if Ms. Smith wins, there will be sheer panic in the House of Stelmach, puzzlement and despair in the Camps of the Opposition … and the first grumblings of discontent over at the Progressive Group for Independent Business.